This week has been manic. I mean that in a metaphorical sense, not in a relapse kind of way. One of the ideas that psychosis gave me was stand-up comedy with my baby on board. This week that idea, borne from madness, was delivered. Bring A Bottle, my comedy show for "people who happen to be parents", was born. It wasn't long before the local news and TV were interested, so Albert and I went from interview to interview, whilst trying to rehearse and fine tune the performance.
I watch the appearances. I see myself laughing and chatting with my little son attached to me by a sling carrier. I recognise that me. I am confident and self-possessed. It is very difficult to see myself like this and not remember a time, just a few months ago where I couldn't manage an hour from the safety of the ward. I had been given leave, but didn't know if I could.
Albert is attached to me by a carrier sling. The air hits my face, followed by the noise of all the traffic, followed by the movement of all the people walking by. I am scared by the faces I see coming towards me and that pass me. I am desperately trying to process everything. It feels like there is too much space around me. I have longed for this freedom and now I feel intoxicated by its size. I feel small, tiny. I don't feel brave enough to exist in this huge world. I want home and I don't even know what home is. I don't want to be on the ward, but the streets are too busy and I am intimidated by their pace.
We find a cafe. It is friendly and small. It is a den. I can rest here for a while from the mayhem outside. I don't really remember how to do this. What are the rules? How do we order? How do I choose? I don't want to interact, but I know I need to. They all know. They all know I'm from the ward. They know.
We take more of a walk when we've had our drinks. There's a small market selling local foods and products. The panic is rising in me. The people, the smells, the sounds, the chatter, the ground, the sky, everything is closing around me and I feel a powerful sense of danger that isn't really there. I need to get away. Get out. Get in. I don't know, just get away. How will I ever be normal again?
This isn't me. I can't stay like this. I can't be like this. Who am I now? What has this illness left me with?
I pull my son closer to my chest. He is sleeping soundly. Knowing that he is safe, and protected. I long to feel that. I hold my husband's hand so tight. I need him to lead me back to the ward. I need to be surrounded by familiarity. I need the doors locked.
I realise how agonisingly slow this recovery will be for me. I know I will have to work hard every time I go on leave, so that I can rebuild the broken city of myself.
But that evening, I just want everyone to leave me alone.